The Flipped Classroom and Personal Learning Networks


My final post for #openflip Spring 2016 includes discussing the fourth facet of a flipped classroom: a personal learning network (PLN).

Professional learning is to become self-aware of one´s personal learning network in how it contributes to a particular experience. A PLN is having the self-knowledge of how learning spaces, groups and networks, and all forms of learning come together at any particular moment and how they adopt and adapt over time. A PLN is about understanding ideas (beliefs, opinions, thoughts, etc.), materials (objects, technologies, etc.), and human relationships (uni/bidirectional communication, strong and weak ties, etc.) not as isolated notions, but as associations that are influenced by each other. In a flipped classroom scenario, a learning network can be viewed at any level: individual, pairs, small groups, whole class, domains, institution, district, community, global, etc., but what makes a PLN personal is that the power and prestige (from a network and not a sociological perspective) are revealed through the understanding of how all ideational, material, and human nodes connect and surround the individual (e.g., student, teacher, etc.). Thus, the individual remains the unit of analysis but cannot be taken out of context. Understanding a PLN (i.e., a learning network at the individual level) becomes a prerequisite for understanding a learning network at the group level, for instance. Understanding a learning network at the classroom network is to understand the learning networks of various groups, pairs, and individuals, etc. Within the context of formal education, an educator has a responsibility in bringing about awareness of student PLNs as well as one´s own PLN. An expert learner is one who has a high level of self-awareness of a purposeful PLN at any given time and how it adopts and adapts over time - a PLN is at the heart of understanding what a flipped classroom is; how it is employed; and how effective, efficient, and engaging it can be for both learner and educator. In order to become adept, one needs to adopt and adapt a PLN.

Flipped Classroom: Intentional vs. Incidental Learning


After watching OpenFlip Spring 2016 Week Three (noon edition) (#openflip, #flipclass), I quickly began feeling lost at the notion of "intentional content" and it´s relevance in the flipped classroom.  I actually did not disagree with anything mentioned in the video, except when the term intentional content was mentioned, which would lead to a "what are we talking about" moment.  The group discussion quickly forced me to revisit what others said about the third pillar of the flipped classroom (internet search), and then try to relate it to what Ken and others were discussing today...and I think I have it.  Just for the record, my discussion about intentional learning vs. incidental learning was recorded yesterday, before having listened to today's talk. Now, let´s unpack the term, intentional content.

Several definitions around the notion of intentional content seem possible.

  1. Predetermined (or prepackaged) content available outside of class that serves as input that enables learners to take subsequent syllabus-aligned action.
  2. Predetermined (or prepackaged) content available outside of class that serves as input that enables learners to take subsequent non-syllabus-aligned action.
  3. Predetermined (or prepackaged) content available in class that serves as input that enables learners to take subsequent syllabus-aligned action.
  4. Predetermined (or prepackaged) content available in class that serves as input that enables learners to take subsequent non-syllabus aligned action.
  5. Student-created content made available outside of class that is a result of syllabus-aligned action.
  6. Student-created content made available inside of class that is a result of syllabus-aligned action.
  7. Student-created content made available outside of class that is a result of non-syllabus-aligned action.
  8. Student-created content made available inside of class that is a result of non-syllabus-aligned action.
At first glance, one might argue that intentional content is only that which is found outside the classroom.  But in practice, I do not think it is a stretch to image predetermined content beginning the learning process outside of class, then to a certain degree subsequently being part of an educative experience in class. Even in the case of student-created content, if the teacher permits such content to be produced, then there is still a level of intentionality to the process.  Thus, the eight definitions above are all possible when considering what is intentional content, intentional on the part of the educator and not the curriculum.  For this reason, the third pillar (intentional content), seems arbitrary.

In my wiki, I modified the third pillar to my own third facet of the flipped classroom: intentional and incidental learning.

In the eight definitions above, definitions 1, 3, 5, and 6 relate more to intentional learning while definitions 2, 4, 7, and 8 relate more to incidental learning.  Additionally, definitions 1-4 could also include incidental or emergent content as well (as opposed to predetermined content) which brings another level of complexity to the mix - a complexity that I think is also very relevant to the flipped classroom. 

Changing from intentional content to intentional/incidental learning puts more focus on learning by doing and is more pertinent to the idea of flipped the classroom.  Content as input is secondary since 1) the degree to which it enables action highly depends on the individual learner and the particular context and 2) the enabled action really depends on whether an educator can bring both intentional and incidental learning together to meet both curricular and individual goals; when it comes to content creation, the action (intentional/incidental learning) is typically more relevant than any preconceived notion of student-created content.  If student-created content is equally or more important than the learning process, I would question whether or not this falls within the four facets (or pillars) of a flipped classroom.

Flipped Classroom: Learning Community

This week I share my current thoughts on creating a learning community within the flipped classroom (#openflip, #flipclass)...
A learning community stems from both student collaboration and student cooperation. Student collaboration focuses more on the we, and centers around having common goals and best practices. Collaboration requires participants reaching a consensus in how they work together and to what end. The downside to student collaboration is possible coercion. In contrast, student cooperation focuses more on the I, and is the assigning of individual responsibility around a particular task based on one's individual interests, strengthens, and background; then managing those individual interests, strengths, and backgrounds as a collective whole. When students cooperate, there may be a common goal that brings people together, but individual goals take precedent. A possible downside might include individuals putting self-interests over helping others. If the goal is helping learners become more interdependent, then student cooperation has certain advantages over student collaboration. Regardless, both have advantages and potential drawbacks, and both can be incorporated into the overall educative experience so that students learn to work in different ways.
From a pedagogical standpoint, educators need empathy, perspective, and metacognitive strategies to rallying together enough educational stakeholders to promote an open and engaging learning community.

Flexible Learning Spaces


As we enter week one of #OpenFlip Spring 2016, I thought I would create a wiki about my thoughts regarding the four pillars (I call them the four facets) of the flipped classroom.  Under its current (rough) form, it offers a slight variation from teachthought's (2014) version, and likely will undergo several more changes as I continue to reflect on the subject over the next few weeks.  Currently, I have this to say about what I refer to as flexible learning spaces:

Flexible learning spaces relate to one of the four aspects of differentiated instruction: learning environment. Differentiating learning environments offers flexibility to learners as to when and where the educative experience might take place. As with any educational setting, the role of the educator in offering such flexibility comes from being a didactic leader (learner as dependent), facilitator (learner as independent), and coach (learner as interdependent). Thus, the value in thinking in terms of flexible learning spaces comes from the degree with which learners become aware of how these spaces facilitate the learning process, creation of products, and retrieval and creation of content based on a set of educational and personal learning objectives. Within a formal education context, the teacher-student relationship exists from having a perpetual feedback loop that is reciprocal and iterative that over time takes the learner from being dependent, to independent, to finally interdependent. With flexible learning spaces this process becomes more ubiquitous.

In a flipped classroom, having flexible learning spaces is using physical and online educational resources in a way that offers the greatest chance for student achievement.
Thus, I attempt to...

  • provide options for flexible learning spaces and time frames that set out to facilitate engagement and reflection.
  • provide ample amounts of formative assessment that periodically (not continuously) leads to adjustments to instruction and adjustments to learning tactics as required.
  • differentiate product, process, content, and learning spaces collectively as needed in order to help learners become more interdependent.